Luther has his share of faults

To the editor:

Robert Pieti in his letter of Oct. 21 writes an obsequious encomium to Martin Luther along with several quite myopic Soteriological Biblical quotations. Quoting the Bible proves absolutely nothing.

Throughout the Middle Ages in Europe, Jews were subjected to anti-Semitism based on Christian theology, which blamed them for rejecting and killing Jesus. Numerous attempts were made by early Christians to convert the Jews to Christianity, but when they refused, this made them a “pariah” to many Europeans.

Martin Luther, who claimed reason is a whore, the greatest enemy that faith has, nevertheless used his reason to make a specific written call for harsh persecution of the Jewish people in “On the Jews and Their Lies,” published in 1543. Consider what Luther has to say about Jews:

“First, I advise to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them.

“Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed.”

“Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing, and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them.”

“Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb.”

“Fifth, I advise that safe-conduct on the highways be abolished for the Jews.”

“Sixth, I advise that usury be prohibited to them, and that all cash and treasures of silver and gold be taken from them for safekeeping.”

“Seventh, I recommend putting an ax, a hoe, or a spindle into the hands of young strong Jews and Jewesses and letting them earn their bread in the sweat of their brow.”

Historian Lucy Dawidowicz asserted in her book The War Against the Jews that a clear path of anti-Semitism passes from Luther to Hitler and that “modern German anti-Semitism is the bastard child of Christian anti-Semitism and German nationalism.”

The Nazi propaganda weekly Der Stürmer called him a “fighter against the Jewish spirit in the Christian Church,” and “Dr. Luther is one of the greatest anti-Semites in German history.” Perhaps Luther, unwittingly, is partly responsible for the Holocaust.

No, we don’t need a new Reformation, but a new Enlightenment with an escape from Plato’s cave. Religious certainty acts like a virus in the brain keeping a person looking at the dancing shadows.